A review of the Saints Row demo as downloaded from Xbox Live Marketplace.
I played the demo of Saints Row on the Xbox 360, which was downloaded through Xbox Live Marketplace. It’s not released in Australia yet, it should be here at the end of August 2006 (31 August 2006 to be exact). I honestly can’t wait. Saints Row is much like Grand Theft Auto (GTA), another game that I absolutely loved, in terms of game play and in some respects, the theme of the game. In particular, it’s quite similar to the first part of GTA: San Andreas, where you, as a gang member, run around trying to take over neighbourhoods by killing rival gang members.
In Saints Row, you run around as a newly recruited Saints Row gang member doing a similar thing in GTA: San Andreas. You kill rival gang members and take over their neighbourhood. That’s about as much as I saw from the demo. If there’s more than that to Saints Row, I haven’t seen it yet.
Like GTA, Saints Row is an open world game, meaning you can pretty much run around to any part of the “world” and do pretty much anything you please. There are missions, of course, which doesn’t have to be completed in a set order. One mission I undertook was to recruit “hos” for a pimp and another was to take over a neighbourhood by killing a particular person. Every time you complete a mission, you get money and your reputation meter grows a little.
A pretty cool aspect was the ability to customize your dude. You can select from a Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic or African American man and then tweak the face until you get a dude you’re happy looking at. This is a little reminiscent of Oblivion, but much easier, and therefore less, to customise. I was a little disappointed you couldn’t choose the gender, I would’ve loved to run around as a chick.
The look of Saints Row is very next generation. It looks much better than GTA, but then again, you’d expect that from a Xbox 360 title. There’s a longer draw distance, but unfortunately, there’s still some pop ups. Most notably, there were pop up, or fade ups, of trees. Other than that, the graphics were less cartoon like than GTA and the environments are well done to give you that real life street quality. What I particularly liked was the seamless transitions between indoors and outdoors. There’s no opening of doors then waiting for the indoors environment to be loaded.
The violence in Saints Row is pretty extreme. The beginning cut scene was very graphic. Much more than any movie I’ve seen, it even made me cringe a bit, which is pretty hard to do. Put it this way, if I had kids, I wouldn’t let my 16 year old play it. If I could help it, I wouldn’t let mt 18 year old play it! The language is also pretty extreme for video games, it seemed like every second sentence in the cut scenes had the word “mother-f*ckers” in it.
The learning curve for Saints Row is pretty low. If you’ve played GTA before, you’ll find many of the buttons do the same actions. The one button I haven’t found yet is the handbrake, which is useful to make sharp turns to get away from the cops when they’re chasing you. I must be blind or something, because I swear I simply couldn’t figure out the handbrake.
If you can manage the ~1 GB demo download, and you don’t mind a lot of violence and bad language in your video games, then I would definitely recommend checking out Saints Row.